We asked you, our nurses and nursing assistants, how you stay awake during your shift. You gave us some great ideas that we just had to share so that night shift nurses everywhere can take advantage of your advice.


If you find yourself getting sleepy, snacking can give you some extra energy to get through the rest of the shift. As Chaquanna says, “Snacks!!!! Lots of snacks.” Something sugary can give you a boost but if you don’t want to eat too many sweets, you can also be energized by a banana, crackers with hummus, dried fruits or nuts. If you know you are likely to get hungry and tired mid-shift, bring snacks from home so you aren’t scrambling to find something (which will likely be unhealthy) at the last minute.

Let the residents entertain you

Clarens says that the residents can keep you awake if you’re talking and hanging out with them. There are always residents awake at any hour of the day and some of them will tell you stories from their past or want to play cards or another game. This is a win-win situation since you can make the residents comfortable and happy and keep awake at the same time.

Stay busy

This was a popular answer from the Towne community. Emmanuel, Frances and Lucy all suggested keeping busy with various tasks in order to stay awake. There is always something to be done even if the residents are resting and don’t need immediate attention. Paperwork, wiping something clean or organizing something at the desk are all good ways to keep occupied. As a bonus, administration will notice that you are helpful and a great team player.

Drink coffee

Evett’s advice is to drink a steaming hot cup of coffee whenever you feel you are drifting off. Take a few minutes, rest your feet and enjoy the taste of the coffee. It only takes a few minutes for coffee to raise your energy levels so you’ll be up and running before long. You may want to stay away from the coffee close to the end of your shift though, so you’re not wide awake later when you need to sleep and rejuvenate before your next shift.

Take pride in your work

When you’re proud of the important job you do, you’ll get a boost just from knowing that you are needed. As Yamii says, “I really don’t have a best tip. I’m just always happy to be at work so I really think that’s what keeps me awake.” We just love this attitude – when you love what you are doing, it’s so much easier to get through a shift, even a late and tiring one. Some nurses have a mantra that they repeat when they are tired, frustrated or just having a bad day. “I love my job,” “Tomorrow will be better” or “These people need me” are some mantras that can keep you functioning till your shift is done.

What did we leave out? If you didn’t answer our question the first time around, here’s your chance to fix that. Add your ideas in the comments section below.